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AN AUCTION house on the Cumbria and Lancashire border has recorded its most successful year yet thanks to a decision to hold weekly sales, offer Saturday viewings and improve its marketing.

Now its weekly auctions are split into collectors’, general and fine art auctions; regularly topping 600 lots for the former and 1,000 lots for the latter. The auctions attract as many as 600 registered bidders, many of whom buy online. 40% of lots are generally bought via the internet although it can be as much as 90% on occasion, demonstrating worldwide interest in the saleroom business. Whilst global interest has increased, opening up for Saturday brunch viewings (10am-1pm) has also brought more people to 1818 Auctioneer’s bricks and mortar saleroom at the J36 (M6) Rural Auction Centre premises.

The firm, the first in the area to provide a virtual saleroom experience, has kept ahead of its rivals by making all of its auctions available online – listings are accompanied by a photograph, description and estimate and the facility to bid in advance or live. It is a move which has helped it to attract record prices for collections of pens, postcards and vinyl records. Three respective collections each made at least £25,000 in the last six months. And single lots including a tin plate car, with a missing wheel, made £1,200, an album of postcard depicting great disasters sold for £1,400 and a yellow metal double row diamond tennis bracelet which made £3,400 were amongst other highlights of the year.

This increase in business has seen the team of seven expand to 10 to include extra porters and specialists in valuing and selling books, medals, coins and records. It has also provided development opportunities for staff like Jackie Rothwell who has progressed from an admin role to becoming the firm’s in-house jewellery valuer. And David Hunter, who started as a saleroom assistant, is now an auctioneer and a specialist toy and railway valuer.

Bringing in outside expertise has brought benefits too said Bill Nelson:

“We’ve used a local PR and marketing firm, Ten Stories High, to boost our marketing efforts. This has given us a 450% rise in referral traffic from Facebook, vastly improved the click through rate to our online catalogues from our weekly emails to a 10,000 strong database and our website has topped one million page views over the year. They also helped us rethink our advertising approach, extending the geographical reach and using specialist and trade media for specific sales, as well as securing editorial for us.

“2016 has been nothing short of an incredible year” added Mr Nelson.

“We have offered, and sold, more items than ever before – but we won’t be resting on our laurels.

“Our next steps include improving our website, continuing to attract those looking to sell, and growing our reputation for expertise and customer service.”